New FriendFeed leaves beta, and one more thing: Dupe detection!

FriendFeed, the social content aggregation site has moved some of the new beta features it was working on to the main version of the site today. On the main site you’ll now find friend lists, photo posting, quick navigation, the ability to see other’s feeds as they see them and an updated UI. We detailed all the changes in a post last month.

Q&A: Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon on Second Life's latest evolution

Virtual worlds are in fashion now, drawing investments of $184 million in 23 worlds in the first quarter. But the original player here is Linden Lab, which launched Second Life in 2002. Mark Kingdon came aboard as chief executive of Linden Lab in May, replacing longtime CEO and founder Philip Rosedale, who remains chairman. More than 15.1 million registered users have tried out the virtual world. Kingdon was formerly the CEO of online creative/marketing agency Organic. Today, Linden Lab announced Direct SLurl, a way to get into Second Life from the web. We chatted with Kingdon about the state of Second Life and the virtual world industry.

Yahoo: The ultimate music search engine — for four artist tracks and 25 playbacks at least

The best features for any product tend to be the ones that work exactly how you think they should. You can add Yahoo’s newly revamped music artist shortcuts in its search results to that list — sort of. Simply do a Yahoo search for an artist and a card will show up along the top of the results page with the artists’ site, links to albums, lyrics, etc. That’s all nice, if old. But the new cool feature is that you can listen to entire songs right from the results page for free.

Yahoo testing new home page for faster access

Yahoo is testing new versions of its main page to a small group of users starting tomorrow, Kara Swisher reports on AllThingsD. The move is fraught with risks, as 82 million visitors hit the company’s main page every day. After its brand-bruising battle with Microsoft, the company has to get it right.

Big in Japan wins the Android Challenge, raises money and has big plans for Google Android development

When entrepreneur Alexander Muse kept running into developers Rylan Barnes and Jason Hudgins over the course of several weeks in Texas, Muse knew he had to work with them. It was a smart move. The trio set up Big in Japan, an application house that focuses on mobile platforms, and by the conclusion of Google’s first Android Developer Challenge, the team had a hand in creating two of the top ten winners.

Amazon makes a stronger (but kind of weak) push as a television content hub

Online retailer Amazon has been making a hard push to cement itself in the digital-content-over-the-Internet market recently. It launched its Amazon Video On Demand service (an update of its Unbox service) a few weeks ago, and earlier this week made its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) website more video-centric. Today, it has launched a new section of the main Amazon site dedicated to fans of select television shows.

iPhone apps like Whrrl preview the power of location, but there is far greater potential

With a global positioning system (GPS) chip now in the iPhone 3G, location services are becoming important to many mobile application developers. Each day, we’re seeing new iPhone apps launch which, if they’re not centered around location, rely heavily on it for core functions. But because Apple will not allow any applications to run in the background, it is hampering much of what location-based services (LBS) can do, as Brady Forrest rightly argued on O’Reilly Radar a couple days ago. Manual location updates are fine, but real-time updates regardless of if you’re using your phone or not, are the future.

Roundup: Green chemicals get started, gaming is ubiquitous, MySpace Music slowed again, and more

Genomatica creates renewable chemical from sugar water — While most chemicals are petroleum-based, several startups are trying to create new alternatives. One of the first to succeed is Genomatica, which says it has a cheap process to make 1,4-butanediol, a component chemical of many common materials, from sugar and water, potentially disrupting a $4 billion industry. More on Genomatica’s process here.

Chad Hurley's 2018: Video wristwatches for all

As part of its tenth anniversary, Google is asking experts to weigh in on where they think different aspects of tech will be in the next ten years. Chad Hurley, YouTube’s chief executive and cofounder, laid out his thoughts for the next decade of online video on the Google blog today.

Robotgalaxy raises $5M to launch virtual world

Robotgalaxy, a retailer that lets kids build toy robots, is developing a virtual world where players can take those robots on science fiction adventures. The New York-based company has raised a second funding round of more than $5 million to launch the game, as well as for other expansion.

Guest editorial: Consumer engagement that matters

An increasing number of entrepreneurs have been asking me what I think of the prospects for consumer Internet startups. Strategic purchases of companies seem to be slowing; advertising spending might be flat next year; and growth on the large social network platforms is getting harder. What’s a startup to do?

Magnify MVP merges self-uploaded video with the best of the web

Magnify is the site that wants to be the one-stop-shop for all your web video needs. Not only does it allow you upload videos, but it allows you to make playlists including videos from other top sites including YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu and others. The problem was that the videos from other sites were separate from the video you uploaded to your own players on Magnify. Now the two sides are merging.

The Internet Movie Database adds the "movie" part to the "database" part

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has long been a favorite site of mine. It’s a film buff’s dream: Find out who is in what movie, quotes, who directed what, what else they’ve directed, etc. Simply following links within it can be a time consuming experience. That said, it’s also been an experience that has been somewhat trapped in the 1990s. Sure, they added dynamic user ratings last year using AJAX (making it so you don’t have to go to different pages to vote on a film), but it’s hardly what some would call “web 2.0.” Today, it’s getting closer though.

New MacBooks shipping all around us, unseen?

Disappointment following certain Apple events is hardly new. The company sets the bar so high that now it seems anything less than a new iPhone will be a disappointment. Apple’s “Let’s Rock” even last week was no different. While most of the things it announced were pretty cool in their own right, the event lacked the signature “one more thing” moment, which many had hoped would be new notebook computers. To those left wanting, there may be good news yet.

ARMs race: Apple developing its own chips for the iPhone

When Apple purchased Silicon Valley-based chip maker PA Semi back in April, the rationale seemed clear: Apple would now be able to build its own microprocessors for use in its iPhone and possiblly iPod products. That was confirmed in June by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs himself, but it still wasn’t clear what kind of chips these would be. It seems the answer to that is ARM chips, according to an Apple employee profile on the business networking site LinkedIn, which the New York Times’ Bits blog happened upon.

Roundup: MySpace to launch music service, Wall Street firms crumble and more

MySpace to launch free digital music service – MySpace Music sounds interesting, but it may not quite live up to Fortune’s declaration that it “promises to be the most significant roll-out of a digital music service since Apple’s iTunes.” Since you have to purchase songs from another service like iTunes if you want to download them, this doesn’t actually sound much more useful than existing service imeem. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has some speculation about who will lead the new company, suggesting that the short list is down to two names: Owen Van Natta, Facebook’s former chief operating officer, and Andy Schuon, a longtime Universal Music executive.

Kleiner Perkins launches a blog for the iPhone iFund

Development of applications for Apple’s iPhone has already proven to be big business. Already, 100,000,000 apps have been downloaded in just 60 days since the iPhone 3G’s launch and Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has hinted that he thought the App Store could be a billion dollar marketplace. All of this likely means that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers decision to start the iFund, a $100 million fund to spur iPhone app development has been a good bet. Today, the firm is launching a blog about the fund.

Genius features underscore the need for iTunes to go DRM-free

The Genius features built into the new iTunes version 8 are amazing. Genius playlists build on-the-fly music playlists based on the music you have on your system. It’s lightning fast and has led me to re-discover tracks from my collection that I’ve long neglected. But it’s Genius sidebar that is the more interesting part of the software.

Q&A: EA's Ben Bell on making The Sims 3

With over 100 million copies sold across the globe, The Sims is more than a game franchise for Electronic Arts. It’s an entire division, or a studio label in EA parlance. It’s been five years since The Sims 2 brought 3D to these games. In February, EA’s Maxis studio will release The Sims 3 on the PC. The new game features improved graphics and an entire town called Pleasant Valley, but the heart of The Sims 3 is in creating the souls of these virtual characters. Players can choose from dozens of character traits to assign each of the town’s 90-plus Sims with unique personalities. Ben Bell, executive producer of The Sims 3, took some time away from Pleasant Valley to talk about the new game.